Sunday, June 13, 2010

writer's conferences

I have a love-hate relationship with writer’s conferences.

I love to connect with people, attend readings and workshops, and learn more about the craft of writing.

But I usually leave feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

Build a platform.
Make a website.
Write consistently every day.
Be organized.


Here is my writing space.



There are a few sleeping bags at my feet (the noisy boys were making a fort), a green froggie towel (the preschooler must have wandered in after bath time and dropped it), a few items I’m selling on ebay, a garbage can overflowing with used Kleenex (I get emotional when I write. Plus, well, allergies), a few printed copies of an edited document that I need to put in the recycling bin, a printed contract I need to mail in for my real job…you get the idea.

Conditions are not ideal.

My website? Um. Right.

The Llama Momma.

Nice.

Here’s what I know about myself: I’m a writer because I love to write. Mostly every day, and mostly during the fringe hours—early in the morning before the kids are awake or at night when they’re asleep. I write in fits and starts, and don’t keep very good records. It has taken me almost two years to write and edit and rewrite a 55,000 word young adult novel. Two years.

In the fiction workshop I attended, the author cranks out three good novels every year.

Three.
Books.
Every.
Year.

Would I have more creative energy if I had a better writing space? Maybe. Would I get more done if I had more writing time? Probably.

But it is what it is.

I have three young children, a part-time job, a volunteer job, a husband, and a big house that insists on getting messy on a consistent basis. Oh, and all these people I live with? They’re always hungry.

This is my life.

I am a mother. I am a writer.

I am me.

12 comments:

moonduster said...

Robyn, you sound so much like me! I don't have a non-cluttered writing space and I am NOT organized. I don't even get to write in the early morning before my kids wake up because all of the little ones are already very early risers! I write in the evenings, when I can find the time.

Last November, I managed to write 52,000+ words during NaNoWriMo, but the novel isn't finished yet, I've only managed to write a few thousand more words since then and I have TONS of editing to do on it.

I'm determined that I WILL finish and edit it this year. But finding the time is my biggest challenge. I've already figured out through trial and error that I cannot get any writing done while the children are still up.

And yes, my kids are always hungry too.

ChosenRebel said...

Yes. But writers write. And you will continue. Forget the comparisons, they're deadly.

Just keep at it. I'll read anything you write and so will others if you just stay honest and keep writing.

Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig said...

It's funny, because this is how I feel about blogging conferences, too. I think to myself, "Oh neat, now these people will be checking out my blog." And then I think "Oh WAIT, these people will be checking out my blog!" and I have to fight the urge to rip the entire site down to the studs and redesign/build the whole dang thing. :) I don't know when or if my blog (and my writing, by the way, because for me they are one in the same) will ever be what I hope for it to be, but like you say - it is what it is! And that's perfectly fine! :)

Alisha said...

Ahhh, I so needed to read this today. I get caught up in the comparison trap too. And then I realize that often times, either the person I'm comparing myself has a nanny or they have no kids or they're a man--and let's be honest: if they're a man, more than likely they simply don't have the same kind of home duties as the woman.

Charity Singleton said...

I have an entirely different set of distractions to my writing, yet they are do the same "damage" to my writing life, or at least my perception of it.

I read this in The Right to Write by Julie Cameron the other evening which helped me. I offer it here as a little bit of encouragement. Even this wisdom is easier said than done, however.

"The trick to finding writing time is to make writing time in the life you've already got. That's where you've go leverage. Stop imagining some other life as a "real" writer's life. Key West sunsets do not make a writer's life. Trust funds do not fund the flow of ideas. All lives are writers' lives because all of us are writers."

Llama Momma said...

moonduster - See? And I look at your life and think, "Wow. How amazing that she writes AT ALL..." We're so hard on ourselves, as moms, aren't we?

ChosenRebel - You encourage. Thank you. And you're right...comparisons are never a good idea.

Llama Momma said...

Thanks, Stacey. I've never been to a blogging conference. I can imagine that would be just a tad bit intimidating.

Alisha - YES. So true. We are each at a different place in life.

It is what it is.

Llama Momma said...

Charity -- I love that quote. It's absolutely true.

Andrew Mackay said...

It was great to get to meet you! I know how you feel -- I come away from these things overwhelmed too, and I have it relatively easy.

I think the moral of the story (and a session that perhaps most writer's conferences need to add) is "making it work for you." Not every writer is going to churn out three novels a year. Some will do one every seven years (Leif Enger!) Some will churn out 12 a year thanks to their enormous group of ghost writers. The rest of us will likely fall somewhere in the middle -- where God would have us anyway.

I think God has a special measure of grace for moms who write. It's not easy anyway -- doing it while distracted is even tougher. Keep it up!

Llama Momma said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Andrew. It was great meeting you! Your down-to-earth advice was a breath of fresh air at the conference.

Debby/Gatekeeper said...

Somehow we always learn something new, don't we? Or, at least, find new encouragements and connections to persevere.

Elizabeth said...

"I am me."
....and a wonderful YOU you are, Llamma Momma!!